Turkey detains 91, including politicians, journalists, over Syria comments

Turkish anti riot police officers block People' Democracy Party's (HDP) headquarter as HDP members call a protest against Turkey's "Olive Branch" operation in Syria on January 21, 2018 in Diyarbakir. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Turkey detains 91, including politicians, journalists, over Syria comments

ISTANBUL: Turkey arrested dozens of people overnight for “spreading terrorist propaganda” about its Syrian incursion, state media said on Tuesday, raising to nearly 100 the number of such detainees, including politicians, journalists and activists.
The latest police raids focused on the western province of Izmir, but people have been detained across Turkey over their social media posts since Operation Olive Branch began in Syria’s Afrin region at the weekend, state-run Anadolu agency said.
The incursion targets the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG, viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.
Among those detained were the provincial heads in the cities of Izmir and Aydin of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second biggest opposition party in parliament. Ankara accuses the HDP of being linked to the PKK, a charge it denies.
HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen named four journalists among those arrested in the investigation into social media postings. He said the probe was targeting “those who side with peace.”
“Journalists are having their doors rammed down without anyone knocking and they are being detained as if there were an army or ammunition inside,” he told a news conference.
“This shows how people are afraid of keyboards, pens, words and writing,” he said.
“BLACK PROPAGANDA“
Anadolu said 91 people had been detained so far in raids against “black propaganda” across 13 provinces, with 17 detained in southeast Turkey’s Diyarbakir province. Three of the detainees have been remanded in custody pending trial, it added.
Six of the 23 suspects arrested in Izmir were accused of spreading propaganda on the streets, which amounted to “harassing people,” the agency said, adding that they were planning to hold a protest in a park.
Among the detainees was Leyla Guven, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish NGO Democratic Society Congress, said HDP lawmaker Bedia Ozgokce Ertan, adding that other HDP officials and senior members of the IHD human rights association were also held.
Ankara has enforced a crackdown since a failed coup in 2016 that critics say has unjustly targeted pro-Kurdish politicians. Some HDP lawmakers have been jailed on terrorism charges, which they deny.
In total, more than 50,000 people have been jailed and face trial since the attempted putsch and 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. The government says the moves were necessary given the security threats Turkey faces.
On Monday, authorities in the capital Ankara banned all rallies, protests, meetings and concerts in the city for as long as the Afrin operation in Syria continues.


Palestinian President Abbas hospitalized: Palestinian official

Updated 20 May 2018
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Palestinian President Abbas hospitalized: Palestinian official

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been hospitalized in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said on Saturday, providing no further details on his condition.
It was the third time Abbas, 82, had been hospitalized in a week. He underwent minor ear surgery on Tuesday and was released a few hours later and hospitalized briefly again on Friday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.